For Love and Honor

In December of 1972, Donald Richie, then film curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, wrote to artist Hollis Frampton and suggested that they organise a retrospective of his work at this most prestigious of museums. To an artist of any standing, this would be a tempting offer; however, Frampton took issue

I see you, my beauty boy

For two months in 1974, as Richard Burton filmed his part in The Klansman, he and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, moved to California with Cassius, just one of Taylor’s many beloved cats. Sadly, the trip confused Cassius somewhat and he soon went missing, never to return. Taylor wrote the following letter some time after his disappearance.

It’s the real thing

In March of 1970, having been shown an advertisement for the newly-published book in the New York Times, Coca-Cola brand manager Ira C. Herbert wrote to Grove Press and asked that they stop using the quote “it’s the real thing”—a slogan associated with the soft-drink since the 1940s—when promoting Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher, Jim Haskins‘ classic first-hand

You’re off, by God!

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton (United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo) Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were both already married when they fell in love on the set of Cleopatra in 1962 – she to fourth husband, Eddie Fisher, a singer, and he to actress Sybil Christopher. In 1964, with divorces finalised, they wed and

I am Danny DeVito’s mother

In 1973, at the very beginning of Danny DeVito‘s Hollywood career, he was cast in Scalawag—a largely forgotten movie directed by, and starring, Kirk Douglas which received, at best, lukewarm reviews upon release. No-one was prouder of the film, however, than DeVito’s mother, Julia, and soon after watching it she sent an endearing letter to

Just like that

The late, great Tommy Cooper was one of the most recognisable comedians in the world, his frantic act a perfectly delivered mixture of jokes and calamitous magic tricks that rarely failed to raise a laugh. I remember watching him as a kid, mesmerised, fully convinced that he was never out of character, that actually there

“GAY CONVERSION WEEK”

In May of 1975, then-Los Angeles Police Chief Edward Davis was invited to participate in the LA Pride parade — an annual celebration of the LGBT community which first took place in 1970 — by the event’s organisers, Christopher Street West. Davis responded with the following letter. LA Pride continues to this day. 2013’s three day

Then I recorded Space Oddity…

In November of 1970, a month after signing a five-year publishing deal with Chrys­alis Music, 24-year-old David Bowie wrote the following letter to Bob Grace, the man who signed him, and briefly filled him in on his life so far. Transcript follows. (Source: Any Day Now; Image: David Bowie in 1970, via.) Transcript November 17th,

Kiss my ass

In 1970, shortly after being elected Attorney General of Alabama, 29-year-old Bill Baxley reopened the 16th Street Church bombing case — a racially motivated act of terrorism that resulted in the deaths of four African-American girls in 1963 and a fruitless investigation, and which marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Baxley’s unwavering commitment to

Hardcase Survival Pinto Bean Sludge

In 1973, whilst compiling the book, “John Keats’s Porridge: Favorite Recipes of American Poets,” Victoria McCabe asked the author and poet Edward Abbey to contribute his favourite recipe to the project. Thankfully, he agreed, and soon responded with the following — a recipe for “Hardcase Survival Pinto Bean Sludge,” a potful of which could “feed one poet for two full

Everything comes to an end

On November 9th of 2004, Stieg Larsson — journalist and author of the posthumously published Millennium series of novels, the first of which was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — passed away after suffering a heart attack. He was 50-years-old. The next month, Stieg’s long-term partner, Eva Gabrielsson, found the following letter amongst his

If ever an actor can do it – Gene can

In October of 1970, with production underway on the set of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the film’s director, Mel Stuart, sent a progress report to producer David Wolper in the form of the following fascinating memo. Delays in the Chocolate Room were obviously frustrating the filmmaker, however it seems the acting talent on display — in particular

Your pal, Lorne Michaels

Early-1976, a few months after Saturday Night Live made its debut as “NBC’s Saturday Night,” the following rejection letter was sent to hopeful writers. It was written and signed by the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels. Transcript follows. (Source: Saturday Night Live; Image: Lorne Michaels on air in 1976, offering the Beatles $3000 to reunite.) Transcript April

Why Explore Space?

In 1970, a Zambia-based nun named Sister Mary Jucunda wrote to Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, then-associate director of science at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in response to his ongoing research into a piloted mission to Mars. Specifically, she asked how he could suggest spending billions of dollars on such a project at a time when so many children were starving on

This is my last visit

In 1966, a few months after first being serialised in The New Yorker, Truman Capote‘s genre-defining non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood, the true story of a quadruple murder in 1959 that Capote investigated and the subsequent trial he attended, was published to huge acclaim. Capote’s book was a sensation and is still one of the

Oh Christ, the cook is dead

In February of 1977, a well-meaning teacher named Stephen Gard wrote to Spike Milligan after reading Monty, the third installment of Spike’s memoirs which focused on his life as a soldier in World War II, and asked some questions about the book. Says Stephen: “My letter was written as a fan, but it did ask

We’re sorry you’ve been misled

When released in 1979, Monty Python’s Life of Brian was instantly banned in a number of countries due its supposedly blasphemous content, and faced countless angry protests from incredibly disgusted people who, more often than not, hadn’t seen the film itself. In fact, so numerous were the written complaints that the Monty Python team had no

Part of this world, part of another

In 1970, when originally offered the lead role in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory by director Mel Stuart, the great Gene Wilder accepted on one condition. “When I make my first entrance,” he explained, “I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After

Love, Dad

In June of 1971, 26-year-old Michael Reagan married his 18-year-old fiancée in a beautiful ceremony that took place in Hawaii, but which sadly couldn’t be attended by his dad, the future President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. A few days before the ceremony, however, Michael did receive something invaluable that would be treasured for

Iorz feixfuli, M. J. Yilz

In January of 1971, a gentleman named M. J. Shields wrote the wonderful letter seen below to The Economist, on the subject of spelling reform — an idea famously championed by George Bernard Shaw, who even funded, posthumously, the development of a new alphabet. It’s a brilliant, amusing letter and one which I have, I think, managed to

Greetings Worm

From the pages of Diane Keaton‘s memoir, Then Again, come four brief and unsurprisingly entertaining letters from the inimitable Woody Allen. Says Keaton: I was his endearing oaf. He was my “White Thing.” […] We thrived on demeaning each other. His insights into my character were dead on and—duh!—hilarious. This bond remains the core of our

It is only adults who ever feel threatened

When released in the early-1970s, Maurice Sendak‘s children’s book, In the Night Kitchen, caused quite a stir for one particular reason: its protagonist — a young boy named Mickey — was drawn nude in some illustrations. Fearful of their children seeing an innocent picture of a fictional boy’s genitals, some parents and librarians took the

Keep Bill Wyman away from Keith

From their 1976 tour of Europe comes a note detailing the accommodation requirements of The Rolling Stones, plus instructions on how best to situate each member — a task no doubt complicated by the various pseudonyms used by the band. Let’s just hope that Roland, the poor chap who inherited the job at hand for the tour’s final show in

I am very real

In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut‘s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, on November 7th, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school’s furnace

E. B. White on the Free Press

Late-1975, Esquire magazine announced that a forthcoming 23-page article by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Harrison Salisbury, to be published in their February 1976 issue, had been sponsored by Xerox. After hearing of the arrangement, E. B. White — author of Charlotte’s Web and long-serving contributor to The New Yorker — wrote a letter to his local newspaper and voiced his disapproval. In the coming

DON’T EVER STOP

One of the most popular letters on Letters of Note is Bowie’s charming reply to his “very first American fan letter” back in 1967, written excitedly when he was just 20 years old and yet to make his mark on the world, even typed on a sheet of his manager’s stationery for lack of his

It’s just terrific

February, 1976. Producer Jan Harlan writes to Stanley Kubrick and speaks passionately about a new piece of technology so impressive that it could lead to “shots which would not enter your mind otherwise.” That invention was the now-ubiquitous Steadicam, and Harlan was right to be so impressed. Indeed, Kubrick shared his enthusiasm, so much so

Dearest Andy

Silver Liz – Andy Warhol, 1963 Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor waited 14 years to acquire her own, personal version of the Andy Warhol silk-screens in which she featured; an iconic collection of pieces that were in many ways an extension of Warhol’s infatuation with the star. One can only imagine how much this subsequent letter of

Marlon I respect you enormously

Late-April of 1973, just a month after Marlon Brando famously turned down an Academy Award for his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola wrote him the following letter and asked him one final time to star as a young Vito in the next installment. Brando’s financial demands, coupled with the Oscar

HOPE THEY KEEP YOU

On July 15th of 1971, U. S. President Richard Nixon shocked the nation by announcing his intention to visit the People’s Republic of China and meet with Chairman Mao. Understandably public reaction was mixed, as illustrated by the following: Two of many messages sent to the White House in response — the first from a

That man basked in your light

It’s not often you see a letter of thanks from one legendary figure to another, and certainly not as heartfelt as this example. It was written in 1976 by Ray Bradbury and sent to fellow author Robert Heinlein; a man who clearly influenced and guided Bradbury during his early years. His gratitude was plain to see, almost 40

The Beatles was too much

On February 28th of 1977, the manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, sent the following telegram to the NME. In it, he confirmed the sacking of Glen Matlock from the band as a result of his constant talk of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, and then officially announced the introduction of Sid Vicious to the

To Our Very Best Pal JOHN WAYNE (Or Occupant)

It seems the jokes didn’t end when the cameras stopped rolling on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, the much-loved NBC comedy sketch show that originally ran from 1968 until 1973 and, over the course of its 140 episodes, featured countless appearances by celebrities. One such guest was John Wayne. He received the following fantastic letter of

Our total love for you is everlasting

Following a routine mammogram on September 26th of 1974, just a month after becoming First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. Below is a loving letter of support from Betty’s husband — then-U.S. President Gerald Ford — and her children, written shortly after the diagnosis. Betty Ford’s decision to be entirely open about her illness

I await you Hollywood feverishly

At Long Last Love — Peter Bogdanovich‘s homage to 1930s Hollywood musicals, starring Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd — was famously savaged by critics when released in March of 1975, to the point where it was very quickly pulled from theatres to minimise damage. A response soon materialised from Bogdanovich in the form of the

You’re a schmuck

In October of 1974, to celebrate his post-retirement comeback, 59-year-old Frank Sinatra appeared in a televised concert at Madison Square Garden, New York. Reviews were mixed, but one person who was particularly unkind to Ol’ Blue Eyes was critic Rex Reed, who immediately savaged Sinatra’s voice, supposed arrogance, and appearance in his syndicated column. He even called Sinatra “Porky

Your ever gracious tenant, Bruce Springsteen

Early-1975, just months before the release of Born to Run — the breakthrough album that would see him almost immediately catapulted to mega-stardom — Bruce Springsteen was hand-writing apologetic notes to his “landlordess,” Marilyn Rocky, due to late rent payments. The autograph practice was soon put to good use as, according to Marilyn, by August of that year

Thank you for not hitting me

Rolling Stone, April 25th, 1974 (Click for full article) John Lennon was already drunk when he arrived at L.A.’s Troubador nightclub on March 11th, 1974. A few Brandy Alexanders later and he was even heckling the main act, the Smothers Brothers, whilst being egged on by his friend, Harry Nilsson. A subsequent call for quiet by

People are more interested in Apocalypse Now than the Holy Ghost

Bob Dylan — Slow Train (Live at Massey Hall, April 20th 1980) The following letter of support was handwritten by Bob Dylan in April of 1980 to a friend who had just joined the U.S. Military, and highlights a period in his life when he attracted much derision as a result of his religious leanings. A few

It wasn’t a rip off; it was a love in

An inflammatory article in The New York Times provoked the following letter from John Lennon in 1971, defensively penned on a couple of sheets of in-flight stationery as the Beatle crossed the Atlantic. Journalist Craig McGregor’s piece, entitled ‘The Beatles Betrayal,’ was clear in its accusation: that a number of white bands — The Beatles in particular

I would like to point out…

The following note was written by Eric Idle to fellow-Python Graham Chapman in the late-1970s. I apologise for providing an intro so lacking in context but I, and the person who submitted it for inclusion, know nothing else of it. If you can add some background, please do so in the comments below. That said,

A library is many things

Early-1971, in an effort to attract as many youngsters to the premises as possible, Marguerite Hart — children’s librarian at the newly-opened public library in Troy, Michigan — wrote to a number of notable people with a request: to reply with a congratulatory letter, addressed to the children of Troy, in which the benefits of

Jim is fundamentally a respectable citizen

Two letters today, both of which concern Jim Morrison, frontman of The Doors, but each at different stages of his tragically short life. The first was lovingly penned by Morrison in 1954, then just 10 years of age, and is an incredibly sweet letter of thanks to his mother for having helped him “face all the

On bureaucratese and gobbledygook

As a result of his influential stint as chairman of the now-defunct Civil Aeronautics Board in the 1970s, economist Alfred Kahn rightly became known as the “Father of Deregulation.” However, he also made a lasting impression on many due to the wider publication — initially in the Washington Star, and then the Post — of the following internal

GOD HELP YOU OUT, PAUL

In 1971, John Lennon wrote the following scathing missive to Paul and Linda McCartney in response to a letter from Linda in which she had chastised him for, amongst other things, not publicly announcing his departure from The Beatles. There was no love lost between the two couples at this point and this angry note was just

I think I no how to make people or animals alive

In June of 1973, spurred on by the recent discovery of a dying bird in his garden, 9-year-old Anthony Hollander wrote to the presenters of the BBC’s much-loved children’s television show, Blue Peter, and asked for assistance in his quest to “make people or animals alive.” Below is his letter, and the encouraging response written by the programme’s

A promise is a promise!

In 1947, in his book, Secrets Behind the Comics, then-24-year-old Stan Lee offered readers a chance to have their comic book artwork reviewed for the price of $1. 25 years later, shortly after Stan Lee had become head of Marvel, an aspiring artist named Russell Maheras cheekily attempted to take him up on his old offer by sending him his Souperman spoof along

Permission to land

Top-left: A Huey thrown overboard; Top-right: Buang-Ly lands safely; Bottom: A rapturous welcome On April 30th of 1975, with the Vietnam War coming to a close and the U.S. evacuating as many people as possible from South Vietnam in Operation Frequent Wind, crew aboard the USS Midway were surprised to see a small two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird

Sorry about your tape

Circa 1974: Revered music journalist, musician, and then-editor of Creem, Lester Bangs, writes an endearing letter of apology to an unsigned musician named Steve after misplacing a cassette sent to the magazine for review. After light-heartedly blaming his chaotic work environment, Bangs compares the disorganisation of his office to that of writer Brendan Gill; author of the

Forget the impeachment of President Nixon…

May 23rd, 1974: In a bid to draw some high-profile attention to an issue which is clearly aggravating him, Hollywood director King Vidor writes a letter to renowned L.A. Times sportswriter Jim Murray and speaks of the “disgraceful” public toilets on offer at the Dodger Stadium; public toilets he claims to be the worst in the world.

The Giant Zlig

Early-1976, aged 17 and still in high school, aspiring artist Tim Burton sent both a letter and copy of his illustrated children’s book — The Giant Zlig — to Walt Disney Productions in the hope that they would publish it. Weeks later, he received a very polite rejection letter from an editor named T. Jeanette Kroger

I love my Muppet life

Today, for no particular reason, I bring you a Muppet-themed extravaganza. Keep scrolling after the first letter — there’s more. First, a lovely, very funny internal memo from the late-Jim Henson in 1986 containing three commercial ideas for a Swedish Chef breakfast cereal. In fact what began as a parody eventually became a reality, with

Regarding your stupid complaint

In November of 1974, an attorney named Dale Cox wrote to his favourite American football club, the Cleveland Browns, and informed them that a number of the team’s fans were regularly throwing paper aeroplanes in the stadium — a potentially “dangerous” activity that could, he warned, cause “serious eye injury” to innocent fans such as himself. His stern letter

What Makes Nancy So Great, by Sidney

[Do not read the following if easily offended] 1978. Hugely troubled punk rocker Sid Vicious was 20 years of age when he penned the following affectionate note – a love letter of sorts that simply listed his girlfriend’s best qualities – and gave it to Nancy Spungen. Just months later Spungen was stabbed to death, and Vicious

I’m the nurse in your famous shot

On August 14th of 1945, as millions celebrated the surrender of Japan and, effectively, the end of World War II, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped the above picture of an elated sailor kissing a nurse in New York’s Times Square. Within a week it had been published in LIFE magazine, and to this day remains one of the

I’m sending you a poem

In 1970, eager to spread the word about a low-key magazine he had just launched, the editor of the very short-lived Vishtaroone sent a copy of its first and possibly only issue to the frontman of T. Rex, Marc Bolan. Ever-gracious, Bolan responded to the fan with three things: a handwritten letter; an as-yet-unpublished poem to be

We will never get past Viet Nam if we sweep it under the carpet

Mid-1976, during what would become one of the most troubled shoots in the history of cinema, Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola wrote the following apology to Marlon Brando as a result of his recent elusiveness; the reason being, he explained, further re-writes of the script — in particular with regard to Brando’s character, Colonel Leighley (later

I have no wish to have a man who doesn’t know me tell me who I am

Writing to a John Presser in July of 1978, science fiction author Robert Heinlein speaks of his disdain for Heinlein in Dimension; a critical analysis of Heinlein’s work – and unauthorised biography of sorts – by Alexei Panshin that was published a decade previous, and which ultimately attracted legal threats from Heinlein. The book, which can be read

Bob Dylan: “Let John and Yoko stay!”

Having greatly agitated the powers-that-be as vocal and influential critics of the Vietnam War, in 1972 the Nixon administration, citing a 1968 conviction of cannabis possession as a previously-overlooked violation of immigration law, began deportation proceedings against John Lennon and his partner-in-peace, Yoko Ono. Naturally, an organised campaign to quash the attempt soon gathered speed, and before long a

SUGGESTED REAL NAME: KATHERINE “KITTY” PRYDE

Mid-1978, 18 months prior to the character eventually debuting in Uncanny X-Men #129, Marvel Comics artist John Byrne unveiled his new creation – Katherine “Kitty” Pryde – in an illustrated letter to writer Chris Claremont. Fans approved, and Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat has since become an integral part of the X-Men. Also of note in the letter: the introduction of a

I have never drawn PEANUTS for children

Image: Jeff Overturf Reader David Desmond remembers fondly the day he received the following letter from the late-Charles Schulz, creator of what is widely considered to be one of the greatest comic strips ever created: Peanuts. I can still recall the feelings of amazement and excitement that I experienced when I received this letter. Even then

MRS YOKO ONO LENNON DOES NOT SWEAT

An irritated John Lennon wrote the following note – currently on display at the Mansion on O – in the 1970s, after discovering that one of his white shirts had somehow turned yellow in colour whilst at the hands of some laundry workers. Clearly, Yoko Ono had nothing to to do with it. Transcript follows.

Limitations are the greatest assets in producing a work of art

Image: Peter Emslie In 1976, having recently been introduced to – and quickly enchanted by – his work by way of a cover of TV Guide – seen above – aspiring artist Peter Emslie decided to contact acclaimed caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. Unaware of Hirschfeld’s address, Peter sent a letter to the offices of TV Guide along with some of

Perhaps we should establish that worth in dollars

An angry Leonard Nimoy wrote the following letter in July of 1976, after learning that a Star Trek blooper reel had been shown in public without his consent. The letter, sent to the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, is brimming with annoyance and clearly spells out – not for the first time it seems – the reasons

Wear it well

Below: As seen in the December 2nd, 1977 issue of Variety, an open letter from Steven Spielberg to his friend, George Lucas, in which he congratulates him on the recent success of Star Wars. Good friends since the 60s, a healthy sense of competition had long been been present between the two, with Spielberg once

I would like to retain ‘fart in your general direction’

In August of 1974, eight months prior to its cinema release, a preview screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail—a painfully funny parody of the legend of King Arthur and the Python team’s second feature film—was attended by a member of the British Board of Film Classification, Tony Kerpel, who was there to offer

I am not afraid of robots. I am afraid of people.

In 1974, English author Brian Sibley wrote a letter to his favourite science-fiction novelist, Ray Bradbury—the man responsible for writing, most notably, Farenheit 451—in which he spoke of his deep admiration for Bradbury’s books and posed some questions related to Disney, a subject close to his heart. “If I remember rightly,” explains Sibley, “I expressed

Drinking, Smoking & Storytelling

Courtesy of the pharmaceutical manager of now-defunct importing firm Fairbairn Wright comes an amusing letter, written in 1972 to announce the interoffice transfer of a member of staff by the name of Enid Havercort. Following three years of head office experience in the city of Wellington, New Zealand, Enid was now ready to begin her career and

I hope you like “Queen II.”

In 1973, just as Queen finished recording their second album, 27-year-old Freddie Mercury, ever the gentleman, politely wrote the following letter of thanks to Jac Holzman, founder of their U.S. label, Elektra Records; Holzman had fought hard to bring the band to his label in 1971, and his faith in them hadn’t gone unnoticed by Mercury. With their debut

The Death List

On August 9th of 1969, four members of Charles Manson‘s ‘Family‘ followed his orders and carried out the murders of actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends. Three months later it was revealed that Steve McQueen – a friend of the victims who, since the murders, had carried a gun at all times – featured on a hit-list of

Remembering Tony Wilson

Exactly three years ago, on August 10th of 2007, a city began to mourn as the inimitable Tony Wilson lost his battle with cancer and passed away. As music journalist and co-founder of both Factory Records and The Haçienda, Wilson’s enormous influence on the Manchester music scene – and in turn the city in general – was,

The Tiger Oil Memos

From the offices of the now-defunct but at one time Houston-based Tiger Oil Company come a batch of curiously entertaining memos, all sent by the firm’s irascible, tactless, and undeniably amusing CEO, Edward “Tiger Mike” Davis, to his staff. Tiger Mike’s management style was no secret within the industry; however, in the early-2000s, 25 years

A Mad Rejection

There’s nothing like a helping of light-hearted humour to ease the pain of rejection, as evidenced by this form letter from the offices of Mad magazine, one of the most influential humour publications ever released. The letter was sent to all unsuccessful submitters of material during the much-lauded reign of Al Feldstein. Transcript follows. Enormous thanks

Neo-Nazis, Syphilis, and World War III

In 1972, a far-reaching neo-Nazi organisation discreetly began to contact various high-profile authors in the U.S. with a view to enlisting their help; the plan being to covertly plant codewords into millions of science fiction novels and spread a secret message to certain sections of society. The message related to a new, deadly, and incurable

I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title

In May of 1974, after reading through a pilot script written by John Cleese and his then-wife, Connie Booth, a clearly unimpressed ‘comedy script editor’ by the name of Ian Main sent the following memo to BBC Television‘s Head of Comedy and Light Entertainment. Luckily for the general population, and thanks in no small part

Dear Rear Admiral

Harry Allen Smith, an American journalist, author and humorist whose work was particularly popular in the 1940s and 50s, wrote the following letter of thanks in 1975 to a Dr. Aubrey Wilcox. Wilcox was apparently Smith’s proctologist, and it seems the brains behind an aptly shaped Christmas gift opened the previous day. Transcript follows. Source Transcript December

I’d rather die than formally address a group of people

In 1970, the late-William Steig won a coveted Caldecott Medal for his children’s book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and although delighted to receive such recognition for his work, the subsequent awards ceremony presented the glossophobic Shrek! author with a problem in the form of an acceptance speech. The nervous letter below was written by Steig a

Science fiction should be mainly about people

In 1969, despite the best efforts of its cast, crew and unrelenting fanbase, the original Star Trek television series was cancelled by NBC after 79 episodes due to supposedly poor ratings. In the following letter, written in 1973 to a lady named Judy Thomases, the show’s creator – Gene Roddenberry – praises the show’s fans, admits to giving Spock a

Earth, by the way, is a garden of delights

A good luck gift from Marlon Brando prior to filming his first major role, as Superman no less, provoked the following letter of thanks from the late-Christopher Reeve in 1977. Of course, seasoned actor Brando was playing Jor-El, Superman’s father. Please excuse the quality of the scan. As always, a much needed transcript follows. Source Transcript 29th March,

Lennon: ‘Society only likes dead artists’

On September 27th, 1971, a fortnight prior to the opening of an exhibit by Yoko Ono at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, the area’s local newspaper – The Post-Standard – ran an article entitled ‘Art or Hokum?‘, in which an anonymous journalist questioned the museum’s motives when agreeing to the show.

It’s a good script

A job offer from Francis Ford Coppola. With the benefit of hindsight it seems like the easiest decision, but remember this was very early-1970s. Lee Marvin was an Oscar-winning leading man and as such able to pick and choose his next role; Francis Ford Coppola on the other hand, although respected, was yet to win acclaim

I hadn’t any idea that I talked about my guitar so often

Saul was just 14 when he wrote and illustrated the following letter to Michelle Young — an ex-girlfriend who had just recently ended their relationship and, in a previous letter, blamed the decision on Saul’s unending talk of his guitar. The guitar obsession never ended and Saul soon became Slash, one of the world’s most admired

Dear Lucy

From 1971, a powerfully succinct letter from Nancy Spero to Lucy Lippard; two highly influential women whose paths crossed numerous times; Spero as a feminist artist, Lippard as a feminist art critic, historian and curator. Transcript follows. Source Transcript N Y OCT 29 DEAR LUCYTHE ENEMIES OF WOMEN’S LIBERATION IN THE ARTS WILL BE CRUSHED.

In defence of Jim Jones

Even in 1978, the very year he orchestrated the mass-suicide that ended over 900 lives in Jonestown, cult leader Jim Jones could count on people as influential as politician Harvey Milk – recently the subject of an Academy Award-winning movie – to fight his corner in his absence. With Jones and congregation relocated to Guyana

The greatest novel I’ve ever written

In 1973, four long years before the novel was published, Philip K. Dick sent an initial outline of A Scanner Darkly to his agent Scott Meredith, along with the covering letter seen below. Dick was clearly enthused and his fervour was understandable as this new work drew heavily on his own experiences whilst a heavy

I wish I could do a lot more for you

Since the character’s inception in the 1930s, the original creative forces behind Superman – and now their surviving families – have been disagreeing with publishers both behind closed doors and in court. From relatively petty arguments concerning the aesthetics of Superman’s jockstrap through to more pressing matters relating to legal ownership of the Superhero, all

The Jim Morrison Triptych

Courtesy of artist Thomas E. Breitenbach comes an intriguing missive from Jim Morrison; legendary frontman of The Doors and owner of stationery so cool it’s a wonder he didn’t send more letters. Breitenbach, a long-time fan of Morrison, had previously written to him and offered to paint an album cover. Below is the singer’s response.

Thank you Bob

In 1997, as a result of his tireless efforts to entertain American troops and campaign on their behalf, an act of congress was signed which resulted in Bob Hope becoming the world’s ‘first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces’. Nothing illustrates the effect of Hope’s humanitarian work more than the following letter,

You’re nothing but a pimp

One day in April of 1976, Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko decided to focus on Frank Sinatra‘s arrival in the city ahead of a live show. In his column, Royko described the constant placement of Chicago cops outside Sinatra’s hotel as “wasteful,” derided his supposed “entourage of flunkies,” and remarked on what appeared to

Philip K. Dick on dreams

Science fiction novelist Philip K. Dick wrote many letters to Claudia Bush; a woman who, due to a thesis she was writing, had chosen to initiate contact with the author as he was the subject of her paper. Below is one of the letters he wrote. In it, Dick tells of a recurring dream he

To all aspiring animators

In 1973, an aspiring young animator named Will Finn wrote a lengthy piece of fan mail to one of his idols, Disney legend Ward Kimball (pictured above), and Kimball responded with the wonderful letter below — an endearingly enthusiastic reply filled with friendly, sage advice. Even 15-year-old Will’s swipe at Hanna Barbera was dealt with expertly

I HATE “Bright Eyes”!

Back in 1979, when such a feat actually carried some weight, Art Garfunkel’s song Bright Eyes spent six consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart after featuring on the soundtrack to the movie adaptation of the novel Watership Down. As a result of seemingly endless airplay, the song gripped the nation and

Describe The Sky

Over the course of four years in the 1970s, artist G. C. Haymes sent approximately 500 letters to a wide-ranging selection of high profile people as part of a project entitled Skymail. Enclosed alongside the letters were return postcards, upon which the recipients were asked to ‘describe the sky’. Below is the original letter and

Most of you steal your software

On February 3rd of 1976, almost 10 years before unveiling Windows 1.0, an irate young Bill Gates wrote the following open letter in response to piracy of Altair BASIC, a piece of software Gates had produced with Paul Allen and Monte Davidoff, and which was essentially the first such release from Microsoft (then named Micro-Soft). The letter was published

YOURS IN MURDER

April 17th, 1977: Two youths are shot and killed in the Bronx. Whilst patrolling the area, a policeman finds the following letter in the road, addressed to NYPD Captain Joseph Borrelli. Four months later police would arrest serial killer David Berkowitz, a.k.a. Son of Sam, and charge him with a number of killings over the

A Call For Equality

Back in 1974, a gang of third grade children from Deal School, New Jersey, huddled together and produced the following letter after discovering one of life’s many injustices. After being signed by all eighteen complainants, it was then sent to President Ford. Transcript follows. Image courtesy of the National Archives. Image: National Archives Transcript DEAL

Regarding that pardon

On September 8th, 1974, newly appointed President of the United States, Gerald Ford, issued Richard Nixon a full pardon, thereby precluding future prosecution for crimes he committed during the Watergate scandal. The move was an extremely controversial one. Just days later, schoolboy Anthony Ferreira sent the following letter to the White House. Source Transcript H.B.

I can and will do more good as a Federal Agent at Large

Elvis Presley was an avid collector of police badges and the owner of dozens from departments and agencies the length and breadth of the United States. But, there was one badge in particular that he was desperate to get his hands on—one which had, for a long time, proven elusive: a badge from the Bureau

This is the Zodiac speaking

Below is just one of many letters sent to the San Fransisco Police Department by the self-titled Zodiac Killer, a person whose identity is still unknown. This particular taunt was received June 26, 1970. 5 deaths have been officially attributed to the Zodiac Killer whilst the killer claimed to have actually murdered 37 people. The